A local free debt service which operates here in Mid-Norfolk is offering some great advice to parents on how to keep their children entertained for less during the summer holidays.

Fountain of life Church has partnered with national debt charity Christians Against Poverty for 8 years, helping many local people during that time get free from problem debt, while also providing practical and emotional support to families throughout that process.

Heather Nunn, Mid-Norfolk CAP Debt Centre Manager, said: “We work with many families who are finding it tough at the minute. The cost of living increases we have all experienced recently are making it harder and harder to balance the family budget. This is even more of a challenge during the school holidays. Six weeks is a long time to keep children entertained and it’s even more difficult to do without spending a fortune.

“It really helps to have a bit of a plan so that families can enjoy the holidays together without feeling stressed about the expense. There are some great ideas out there, and lots of resources, but we hope our tips can help families feel more in control and enjoy summer holidays, whatever their budget.”

Here are CAP’s ten top tips:

  1. Set a budget. Work out what you can afford to spend over the whole of the summer holidays and divide it equally over the weeks. Some weeks you may spend the whole lot, other weeks hardly anything and it can roll over into the next week. You can also involve your children, so that if they ask to do something you can discuss with them if it’s good value – for example, is a trip to the cinema worth as much a day at the zoo? It’s a great way to start to talk about finances to them, and for them to learn.
  2. Explore outside. Go outdoors! Go to a nearby forest or country park for a walk – many of them are free. Or why not make it a fun competition by coming up with a list of things to find and see who collects them all first. If you’re near the coast, go to a local beach for the day – even if it’s not that sunny, there’s plenty the kids can be doing to have fun.
  3. Meal planning. Planning meals ahead always helps to watch the pennies and you could make this an activity in itself to get the children planning what they want to eat, and helping you make it. Get them to plan a menu, make a shopping list of ingredients and cook. They will learn some great skills for life. BBC Good Food has a children’s section filled with simple cheap recipes. bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/cooking-projects-kids
  4. Movie night. Allow the kids to choose their favourite movie, or movies, even if it is one you’d rather not watch! Get some popcorn, dim the lights and have fun. It’s much cheaper than the cinema and can also be very democratic – as the children all take their turn to choose their own favourite, as well as watching the others favourite films.
  5. Games night. On a similar theme, why not get some family or friends together, dust off the board or card games and have a fun night in, with some fun competition.
  6. Crafts. There are so many options which won’t break the bank. What about a scrapbook about the summer, with keepsakes or mementoes of times spent together. Or designing and making cards for forthcoming special occasions? Nor to mention paper aeroplanes, making your own jewellery or planting a herb garden. The list is endless.
  7. Summer reading challenge. The free annual reading challenge operates in partnership with public libraries, which are now fully open again, and is aimed at children aged up to 15 years. Contact your local library for further details.
  8. Picnic. Food tastes so much better outdoors, so pack up some lunch and a blanket and eat outside in a local park or at the beach. You don’t need to wait for a sunny day to have a picnic, however. Even if the weather’s bad, just spread out a picnic blanket indoors and recreate the whole experience, without the wasps!
  9. Play dates. If your children are of a certain age, play dates and days out with friends at each other’s houses can be a great way to get them socialising, having great fun and keeping busy for little cost. Plus you get some adult company.
  10. Free places to go. You will be amazed how many places you can go for free. Check out this list of free (and low cost) museums, galleries and festivals moneysavingexpert.com/deals/cheap-days-out and be sure to also check out your local council’s information, as they are likely to have free organised events during the holidays.

If you are struggling with debt or need help managing your finances please call 0800 328 0006 or visit capuk.org